Thursday, July 23, 2015

Millipede Mating

I think this brings things full circle. Two weeks ago there was a barrage of baby pill bugs, last week we saw death occur as a hungry beetle larvae happened upon a slug, and this week we have millipede mating!

What we can see occurs over a period of 6 hours, and at some point it looks like three millipedes are involved. It's difficult to tell if they are the same millipedes participating throughout the entirety.

I had originally incorrectly titled this post "Centipede Mating". You can see between 16:02:01 and 16:57:02 that each body segment has two pairs of legs. If these were Centipedes you would only see one pair per segment. Assuming these are mating Millipedes we might get to see a slew of babies in a few weeks! Apparently they start off with only three pairs of legs and only after a few molting sessions do they appear as we're used to seeing them.

Amazing piece of info: Millipedes are part of the Myriapod family (many feet), and were the first oxygen breathing animal to walk on land! And last, these creatures are a significant contributor to decomposition, that crazy process that results in this wonderful pile of material we call soil that keeps you and I fed. Next time you're eating anything or simply going somewhere on a walk, thank the Millipedes.


Image stabilization issues
Some of the videos I compile tend to shake left and right, a result of the scanner occasionally starting at a slightly different position. It always scans the same distance and looking at one image next to another it's difficult to see any difference. Play them back in a video and it becomes very apparent that the images don't line up.

I've used FFMPEG's deshake option to smooth out this jitter, but it's difficult to remove all of it. Going through each image one at a time is a bit too time consuming, so we need to either resolve the initial problem that causes it, or figure out a more accurate work around.

A few thoughts on resolving / working around this:
1. Figure out how the scanner returns home.
 - At 600 DPI even a millimeter off will result in a 20pixel shift. When viewing the whole 8.5x11" area it's not very obvious, when zooming into a smaller area it is. The intended use of these scanners from the manufacturer likely did not include building timelapse videos : )

2. Can we compare the first twenty rows of pixels from left to right of sequential images?
 - Once we find a certain percentage match, trim all rows to the left off.

3. Apply a ~5mm solid white border to the glass scanning plate
 - Use imagemagick to locate the border and crop within the boundary.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Death of a Slug

A week ago a dying worm slowly crawled into a small pocket of space. I was interested at the possibility of seeing what the decomposition process would look like. A few days in and this happens:

I didn't expect to see something so violent! The timelapse videos shows in 10 seconds what in reality took nearly 12 hours. Maybe the speed at which it plays back is what makes it feel so violent? 

It would be great to develop a system that allows for real time viewing, but that will have to wait.

Not sure what type of slug was eaten, the predator in this case appears to be some sort of Beetle Larvae? You can also make out the worm in the first few seconds of video, the view of which is quickly obscured as the Beetle Larvae makes its way in.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Young Pillbugs

A few days ago a couple small explosions of tiny white bugs appeared. Zooming in shows what appear to be hundreds of tiny Pillbugs (Armadillidium vulgare, roly-polies : )! Action begins approximately 9 seconds in.

According to this article these young crustaceans have already spent 10 to 14 weeks riding around in the pouch of a female Pillbug. I wonder if we could look back at previous video and identify any of them?

The area represented in the video is approximately ~8.1cm x 4.5cm (3.2" x 1.8"). This puts the young Pillbugs at ~1.5mm (1/16") in length.

Most of the Pillbugs quickly disperse beyond the viewable area within a few seconds. A few slow down and some can be seen feeding, or being fed on.

So much happening in such little space, so much more happening that's barely visible, and I can only begin to imagine how much is going on that isn't visible at all at this level.